I started airlayering Michelia alba in May this year. Today I opened the wrapping and checked for moisture level. I noticed that it has started to root. Here is the pictures:
I'm new to photobuck and edited the pictures after I posted.
Here are the pictures:
You better keep it covered and moist, it could remain at this stage for months. It looks like some callus has formed. Al
Hi Al, I think the M. Alba is in early stage of rooting. It's look as those I saw when a fig cutting trying to root. Fig cutting is very easy to root. I know it can be months away before root well established. I'm very delighted.
Looks like you're having fun! I like it.
Today weather is too warm for me. It has rained a little last few weeks. I checked my michelia alba experiment. What a surprise ! I get roots. I'm so happy about it as this is my first trial. From late May to early November is about 6 months. Should I let the plant gain more root or cut off here ? The top of the plant is still too yellowish to me.
I planned to cut the bottom 2 branches off when I move the new plant to a pot.
Here is the picture taken today.
I would cut it off at the bottom of the new roots. Now I would remove all the moss from the roots, doing as little damage as possible. At this point I would plant it in a three gallon size pot of gritty mix the top of the new roots even with the top of the mix. Any bark based mix I would have soaked the mix overnight to thoroughly saturate the bark before planting in it. You will probably have to stake your new plant for a month or more to allow the roots to grow into the mix. In my zone and yours keeping it in a protected outdoor location would be preferred. The leaf color looks fine to me. You will need to feed regularly with a weak feed. I use Foliage Pro 9-3-6, but any similar ratio should be fine. You are to be congratulated on your patience and persistence to maintain layering to rooting. Al
The root ball is relatively small as I can see. Some leaves are turning brown on their edges; a sign of the plant sacrificed leaves to protect its life. I'm hesitated to separate the air-layered branch now as weather is getting cold.
I have decided to take action to transplant the air-layered branch. It may grow faster in the pot. The Michelia alba looked before transplant.
After I unwrapped the moss, and the root ball exposed to air. The size of root is small.
The soil used is "Super orchid mix" which I used for orchid. The soil looked like bark and coarse sand (30%).
I then cut off the branch and transplanted into a 3 gallon pot. discarded 2 bottom branches and staked (2 sticks) the plant up. I also sprayed the leaves with Cloud cover to help this baby. please wish me luck !
calistoga, thanks for your kind advice. Let's wait and see if this one can survive.
Good luck! Thanks for the update.
Wouldn't it be appropriate to remove some of those leaves to give the plant a little more energy to create roots at this stage, now that it is not part of the mother plant?
Thanks Sam for sharing your efforts! Very fun stuff. I have a couple air and ground layers working at the moment, my first! Can feel your excitement.
Darren, unless there's some wilting, indicating that the amount of roots is unable to deliver enough moisture, I wouldn't remove any leaves. They are the plant's food factory for more growth to above and below-ground parts of the plant.
Ok. I was under the impression if a plant is attempting to grow roots, the less leaves to support would allow the plant to put forth more energy into growing roots. Sounds good to me, learn something new everyday.
Your transplant looks good to me. The patience you needed to wait for the rooting will be needed again now. Your climate at this time of the year should be pretty consistently over 50% humidity in the protected area where you have it and I see no sign of wilting. Your plant will be growing new feeder roots for the next month or two and needs all the leaves to produce the carbohydrates to feed new root growth. Keep fertilizer to less than half strength during this time, or risk damaging new roots. As time progresses you should note a gradual greening of the foliage. Congratulations on a good example of air layering technique. Al
Day 2 after transplant, I looked at this baby. It looked OK ! It will take at least a month to see if it will take. I'm cautious on water as the plant's root mass is small. I has placed a wick made of 100% rayon mop strands in the container to improve drainage.
Al, humidity is high around 70% this time. And I'll pay attention to those days with northern wind why is very dry.
With the mix you used, I don't think drainage will ever be a problem. Right now maintaining even moisture in the mix would be of more concern, but at this time of year with high humidity levels, transpiration even from the large leaf area of this plant should not be a problem. Al
The mix I used is "Super orchid mix" which has varied size of barks (looked like MG potting soil). It holds moisture well but drains better. This fine product is not available as the company Rod McLellan Co is out of business.
Today my newly planted Michelia alba has entered a critical stage. Leaves are yellowing and drooping. Since transplant, I have done following actions:
Day 4 I watered the plant with kelp solution.
Day 5 I sprayed leaves with seaweed solution.
Yesterday night I left the pot outside.
The weather was very dry these few days with RH around 48%. I might over water this baby a bit. I'm going to move the plant indoor by a window. My room's RH is around 65 % all day. Transpiration from the large leaf will slow down drastically. I hope this can help this baby from falling all of their leaves.
My recommendation is to have faith, don't spray with anything, just make sure the root ball remains moist. Leave it outside where you had it. This is not a houseplant and will do better outside. Making changes in location or spraying the foliage retards its adjustment to feeding from its roots, give it a chance to adjust. Even if you have lost every leaf does not mean it is dead, only stressed. It should grow new leaves if given a chance. Transpiration in the house is sure to be more, not less, than outside in the shade in San Francisco. Al
Al, The plant is under severe stress as its root adapts to new soil medium. It is quite normal that all leaves looked drooping. Given more time, I think it will be fine.
I was wondering what kind of moss you use to airlayer the plant. Because I think one day I want to airlayer mine too.
Hi Savy4, the Sphagnum Moss I used was bought for orchid mounting. The name is "Premium New Zealand Sphagnum Moss AAA" long fiber one.
I forgot to ask you. How often do you watered it when you started to wrapped the moss around the trunk of the tree. Because I'm really interested on how to airlayer it.
Savy, There are no schedule for me to water. When I opened the foil and touch the moss by hand. If it is dry then I water. If the plastic wrap is transparent, one by tell by color of moss. Dark color means there are moisture. Light color means there are less moisture.
Choose a branch not a trunk. The trunk has so many branch to support and chance of success I think is not that high.
WEAR PLASTIC GLOVES BEFORE YOU HANDLE MOSS !! some moss is believed to carry some fungus. It may cause illness if one's hand has a wound.
Soaked the moss in water first and squeeze out excess water. When I first packed moss around wound of the branch. I loosely packed the moss around. Good luck !
Thank Sam so much for the information.
Someday I will try your method when my alba plant is ready.
The plant looked like it is dying. It dropped 80% of it's leaves. And stems color changed from green to brown. This indicated most branches are drying. The leading buds are pale green. It is a matter of time, these buds will be dry.
The root (I checked at day 11) had a new feeder root.
Day 19 It looked like die back is progressed down. I decided to cut off all dead branches.
The root looked like it is growing; a few more feeder roots developed in last 8 days.
It is time to draw conclusion what went right and what is wrong.
1. Ambition was so high to airlayer a trunk in stead of a
2. The plant was cut off too early before root fully develops.
3. More leaves should be trimmed off.
I was told Michelia alba won't grow without leaves. Now I'm going to verify if this myth is true. I'll be cautious in watering this leafless tree.
Probably #1 would have been OK if not for #2.
I don't see how #3 can be a factor. If the plant can't support them, they will drop. If if can use them, they will stay on.
What about the soil in that pot? It looks like soggy mud.
Curious to see what this thing does. The roots do look good.
The soil was just watered before taking picture. I learned a lot from this air-layer. I'll try a new air-layer in Spring. In the mean time I'll continue to take care of this plant.
Your problems reminds me of our oldest son when we had to put him in nursery school so his mother could work while I went to school. He came home one day with three fat worms in his pocket. They were alive but we could not tell what they were. He explained they were all furry when he started playing with them but the fur all wore off. We then recognized they were caterpillars. You tree wants to grow feeder roots to sustain it, but this does not happen overnight and you are not giving it the chance. Al
Hi Sam, hope your air layered Michelia Alba survived. Could please post the current status of the plant.
I had the same problem with my air-layered michelia alba about 3 years ago. I saw the roots came out the pouch, and I transplanted them into a pots. At first all the branches' leaves stay green, and then later all of them turned to yellow and dropped off the branches. But I still have them in the pots, and hopping the air-layered tree will grow. But I have waited for almost more than 2 years. I will keep my fingers cross.
On April 8 I airlayered my michelia alba. I hope it works.